NEW YORK — The Chicago Cubs hoped they had enough information Wednesday to solve Masahiro Tanaka, who provided a late chill to their offseason when he elected to sign with the New York Yankees, in the first game of a split doubleheader necessitated by Tuesday’s rainout.
“We’re going to try to get him to throw strikes and take advantage of him a little bit,” said Cubs manager Rick Renteria, who was part of the Cubs’ contingent that made a presentation to Tanaka and his representatives. “His split-finger fastball, when it’s down, is pretty good. He can elevate his fastball a little bit. He’s pretty good.”
The Cubs tried to bunt twice in the first two innings against Tanaka, who signed a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees prior to this season. Junior Lake was called out at first base in the second inning, but Renteria challenged the call, and a replay overturned the call that resulted in a single for Lake and the only hit allowed by Tanaka.
The Cubs’ other hit off Tanaka occurred when slugger Anthony Rizzo took advantage of a shift by pushing a bunt down the third base line for a single. Rizzo hit a single to right field off Shawn Kelley with two out in the ninth.
Carlos Beltran hit a home run with one out in the first inning off Jason Hammel, and the Yankees added two runs on a sacrifice fly by Dean Anna in the fourth and a grounder by Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth.
Hammel saved the bullpen for the second game by pitching seven innings.
Before the game, Renteria had an interesting explanation when asked if he ever envisioned Tanaka in his rotation.
“We went to talk to him,” Renteria said. “It didn’t work out, so we move on.
“I’m glad for him. I’m glad he’s here in the States. He wanted to come to the States and be a part of Major League Baseball. He is here with the Yankees and we’re looking forward hopefully to spoiling it a little bit.”